Jönssonligan is the name of a series of classic Swedish criminal comedy movies. It's the name of a gang where each member radiates such a impressionable personality that you grew to care for every one of them, and follow their often erranous criminal escapades with a silly grin on your face.
This was a long time ago, however. The original actors died or grew old. The series faded away from being a piece of the present - where you looked forward to each new segment of the series, to being a series of classics everyone had in their bookshelf... until now!
The attempt to bring life to the series, however, breaths in a whole lot of death. The characters are introduced one by one, and brought together by sometimes entertaining, sometimes tragic circumstance. Vanheden is now black, Rocky is now a girl, Stickan no longer needs glasses and Dynamit Harry is now not only an alcoholic but also suicidal. They meet him just as he's about to blow himself to smithereens in a trailer packed with explosives. Not the best start to a lasting, positive character impression.
On the one hand the new actors are great! I feel they all fit their roles perfectly despite the intentional twists to their character, but the roles they are now acting feel so far away from the originals that I'm not sure it'll ever get as good as it used to, regardless of it will ever feel the same (that seems improbable).
The humor's no longer harmless. The arguments between characters in the gang are no longer entertaining - they're brutal. The whole story, though masterfully put together, compelling on it's own, feels like a tragic reboot of a series that was so much more than this.
From permeating hope and vision, featuring a creatively clumsy gang of criminals that were so unlike the gritty underworld of today that you didn't really consider them criminal, it's become a dime a dozen, like a cheap Swedish take on Ocean's 12 or Fast & Furious... without casinos or car chases. The story? Very generic:
Charles Ingvar Jönsson gathers three criminals to take vengeance upon the people who killed his uncle.
Be it for good or worse, the reboot is off to a very different start, and though the movie was one of the best Swedish movies I've seen in a while, I'm not sure it merits a Jönssonligan in the title. Hopefully it'll be like Bond's chaotic jump back to beginnings in Casino Royale, where the sequels settle, and the main character once again gains the dignity he deserves.
I'm fearful of, but all the same looking forward to a sequel; hoping it'll bring back all that this one didn't.
rated 3/5: not bad